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  • Writer's pictureMatt Erlenbsch

Using a dog harness by Team Alaska

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Trust us, the whole Buddy team, loves nothing more than to have a pack of happy dogs running free. However, we all also firmly believe that each and every dog should be capable of walking comfortably on leash when needed. How many of you take your dogs out for a walk on leash from time to time?

Do you clip your dog’s leash to a collar or a harness to go for a walk? We would recommend that your dog wear a well fitting harness for their body type and that you clip their leash to the harness rather than the collar. Why? Try putting pressure with your finger across your throat where a collar would do so when pulled against. How does that feel? Not so great? Same for your dog. A harness that distributes the pulling pressure from a leash across their chest and body is much more comfortable and healthy for your dog. In addition, a properly fit harness is harder for a dog to back out and escape from than a collar. Finally, a harness with a large easy to grab loop on the back allows you to quickly have control over your dog if you need to help lift/ lower them to the car, pull them closer to you in a crowded area or walk them past a hazard without having to clip on a leash.

There are a million and one harness options out there these days in all sorts of styles, colors and fabrics. How do you choose a good one?

We recommend a Y style harness that has adjustable straps around the neck and chest as well as a center strap that runs between the front legs to reduce slipping and minimize the ability of your dog to back out of the harness. Here is a very in-depth review of several different Y style harnesses with helpful photos describing what to look for when checking the fit on your dog.

Harnesses should fit like yoga pants, not baggy jeans.

Please adjust the harness to fit fairly snug on your dog. If you already own and use a harness on your dog or if you are looking to buy one, double check these 4 main points of fit:

1. The Y opening at the neck should sit just on top of the bony prominence of your dog’s breastbone. If the Y sits too high it will press on your dog’s throat and be uncomfortable potentially restrict their airway. If the Y opening sits too low on their chest, the rest of the harness is too big and will likely restrict their shoulder blade movement.

2. The neck opening and back strap should allow for free motion of the top of the dog’s shoulder blades

3. The chest strap should sit approximately 3 fingers behind the dog’s armpit, in the middle of their ribcage. If the chest strap sits too far forward, right in the dog’s armpits, it can cause uncomfortable chafing. If the chest strap sits too far back behind the center of the rib cage it can uncomfortably press on internal organs in the belly.

4. The chest strap that runs between their front legs, along your dog’s breastbone, should not gap away from their chest.

Here are 3 harnesses we recommend that can be adjusted to fit a variety of dog sizes and body shapes:

1. Nonstop Dogwear Line Harness with grip (large grab loop on back) or the Ramble Harness These harnesses are best for mid and large sized dog breeds. It is likely too bulky for very tiny dogs though it does come in size XS-XL. There are no color or pattern options for this harness just simple, durable and well constructed materials. 2. Pet Safe 3in1 Harness (has a top handle) or SureFit Harness (good budget harness) This harness can fit dogs as small as 10 pounds and up to 130 pounds with different width webbing options to match the size of the dog. There are a variety of color choices as well, but no patterns. We like the simplicity and adjustability of these harnesses. 3. Lupine Pet Roman Harness (this does not have any padding or a top handle for quick control, but does have adjustable neck and belly straps in addition to adjustable length chest strap for a custom fit) This harness has the widest variety of patterns and colors to choose from. It also offers a variety of webbing widths and sizes to fit everything from toy to giant breeds.

Wilderdog, Ruffwear and RabbitGoo all make similar style harnesses that are popular with dog owners. If they fit your dog properly and work for your needs, any of these are good harnesses as well.

It goes without saying, harnesses are great for your dog to wear when they are out on a walk with you, but they should never be left on your dog for extended periods of time. Harnesses are a great way to keep your dog comfortable, safe and under control when you are out on walks or bigger adventures together.

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